May 3, 2023

Outfielder Xiong Enjoying Big Senior Year, Helping Hun Softball Get Off to 12-0 Start

KAT QUICK: Hun School softball player Kat Xiong makes contact in recent action. Senior center fielder Xiong has been starring with her bat and glove as Hun has gotten off to a 12-0 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Robbinsville High on May 4 and at the Blair Academy on May 6 before hosting the Peddie School on May 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kat Xiong got off to a rough start as the Hun School softball team hosted South Hunterdon last Thursday.

Senior star center fielder Xiong uncharacteristically struck out looking as she batted second in the bottom of the first inning.

Displaying her poise, Xiong didn’t let that disappointing at-bat get her down.

“I just cleared my head and forgot about it,” said Xiong. “It was just a fluke, it was next one.”

In her next at bat, Xiong hit a bloop single over second base in the second inning as Hun exploded for a 10-run rally. Later in the frame, she smacked a triple to left center to drive in three runs.

“Everyone else was getting ups there and getting hits,” said Xiong. “The momentum was building, I was using that to carry on to my next at bat.”

Hitting the triple was a highlight for Xiong as Hun rolled to a 12-0 win over the Eagles, improving to 12-0 in the process. “I was relieved, it felt great to get three more runs on the board for our team,” said Xiong, who ended the day going 2 for 3 with a run and three RBIs.

Getting runs on the board for the Raiders has become a calling card for Xiong this spring as she and Lexi Kobryn are tied for the team lead in RBIs with 27.

“I don’t try to hit home runs or anything,” said Xiong. “I know my job is to get people home, get on base, and put the ball on the ground. I have been getting on base a lot more, my on-base percentage is up, most of the time I am on base. I hit a home run a few games ago against Hopewell Valley, that was my first of the season.”

With Hun heading in the homestretch of the season, Xiong is looking to make the most of her final spring with the Raiders.

“I can’t think about it, I get so sad, it is very bittersweet,” said Xiong. “I am just trying to soak it in.”

Having committed to attend Colby College and play for its softball program, Xiong is looking forward to some more sweet moments in the game.

“I wanted the highest education possible, it is a great school,” said Xiong, reflecting on her decision to attend Colby.

“I love the coaching staff there and the girls and the environment there. Everyone was just so nice, unbelievably nice, so I knew it was the place for me.”

Hun head coach Kathy Quirk loved the contributions she got throughout the batting order against South Hunterdon as the Raiders pounded out eight hits.

“That is what we have been working on,” said Quirk. “We can’t have one person try to carry the team.”

Quirk credited a pair of seniors, Xiong and Nina Amodio, with providing a spark against the Eagles.

“Kat is a leader in RBIs; when she is on, she is on,” said Quirk. “She does have a nice bat and she controls the outfield for us. We have actually been having Nina at designated hitter and today we said we are going to let her have a chance to be in the field. She has a nice catch out there in right field and had two nice hits up the middle.”

In reflecting on Hun’s 12-0 start, Quick credits the nice chemistry that has developed among the players.

“They are just a great bunch of kids; they support each other, everybody gets along,” said Quirk. “The younger kids don’t play much, it was very nice to get everyone in today. We have won big in other games, you get to 10 runs ahead and the game is over. They played two defensive innings today.”

With the Raiders playing at Robbinsville High on May 4 and at the Blair Academy on May 6 before hosting the Peddie School on May 9, Quirk wants her players to keep focusing on doing their jobs and not on the undefeated record.

“I do like where we are at, we don’t use the ‘U’ word,” said Quirk, who guided Hun to an 18-1 mark last spring on the way to a Prep A state title. “We just do one game at a time, we don’t talk about the future. I am just happy with all of them. Bri Riviello at third base does a nice job for us. Anna Murphy has been doing a nice job for us out in the field and with the bat. Sam Jolly is very patient at the plate. I am happy with Emma Eisenberg behind the plate.”

Xiong is very happy with how things are going so far this spring.

“We actually love each other, it is genuine; the team chemistry is great,” said Xiong. “We are undefeated right now and it is because we know we are a family. We fight sometimes but that is because we know at the end of the day, it will be forgotten. We are like sisters, we have so much fun.”